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Addressing Covid-19 disparities can no longer be delayed

28th Aug 2020
Addressing Covid-19 disparities can no longer be delayed

Female patient photo created by jcomp –

The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is stark. This has been known for months. A succession of reports has continually shown such gross disparities that exacerbate existing health inequalities.

In the latest, a three-month task force in the West Midlands confirms that Black and people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are between more than three to over four times more likely to die from the deadly virus than White people. The situation was a “medical emergency” and that it was “avoidable.”

The inquiry held a harrowing hearings from those in the BAME community who lost loved ones to Covid-19, testimonies so often been ignored by the mainstream media. Testimonies included from a pastor’s wife who lost her husband first, then her best friend while battling the virus herself in hospital.

Married since 16, she discovered her husband had 24 to 48 hours to live by a text message. There was a son who said goodbye to his dad via WhatsApp while a doctor sat stroking his dad’s hand and holding him close “as if he was his own.” Also, heart-breaking was a 35-year-old new mum who died immediately after childbirth.

The BAME community were found not to have any confidence that the NHS was a system where their voice would be heard when concerns about treatment were raised.

Many non Covid-19 patients were placed on Covid-19 wards without adequate protection. Many also experienced long delays getting through to the 111 helpline and families found they had little to no proactive information about their loved ones’ condition.

The voice of the communities has simply not been heard in the way health services are designed and delivered. The consequence had a critical bearing on the way families were treated when relatives were admitted to hospital or lost their lives.

Many felt there were failings in the communication of information, be it visiting rights; the way information on loved ones’ conditions was shared or the way decisions like ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ plans were formed.

And yet it has been BAME workers whose heroism was in the frontline and who found themselves victims. They have been serving selflessly in the fight against coronavirus and to keep essential services running.

As early as April, it was reported that as many as 63 per cent of staff deaths within the NHS were of BAME backgrounds. It was frontline workers who had direct experience of the grossly inadequate provision of PPE and had to also deal with inadequate risk assessments.

Even basic data needed to track the impact of the pandemic was not available, such as ethnicity recording on death certificates. Such disparities in health outcomes have been affecting those within BAME communities since long before the current pandemic. Covid-19 has heightened the disadvantages faced. The gross disproportion is neither in biology nor indeed genes, but in social and structural differences embedded within a hideously unequal society.

Another recent survey by the Runnymede Trust and ICM illuminates why BAME communities are at greater risk from the deadly pandemic and warn that as the lockdown is eased they will further be exposed to economic fallout.

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds because of long-standing racial and socioeconomic inequalities, it states. Separate research has also revealed that ethnic inequalities are “deeply entrenched” among the over-50s in England, with older BAME people falling behind White peers on income and homeownership.

BAME people are more likely to retire later than White peers, have a lower weekly income, and are far less likely to own their own home, according to an analysis by the Centre for Ageing Better, Institute for Public Policy Research and University College London.

The dire need for an independent public inquiry providing comprehensive insight into the phenomenon and tackling the inequalities disproportionately affecting BAME communities is indisputable.

But much more immediately Government action and intervention is required now to address the startling disadvantages that so many reports have highlighted. BAME members, disproportionately in the front line in providing essential services during the pandemic, deserve much more than being discriminated and ignored. Platitudes are no longer a substitute.


Disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities in West Midlands ‘avoidable’

BAME people over-exposed and under-protected from Covid-19

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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